Lapid: I’m handing over power ‘with an unquiet heart’; full normalization with Saudis is close

Carrie Keller-Lynn is a former political and legal correspondent for The Times of Israel

Outgoing Prime Minister Yair Lapid addresses the Knesset, December 29, 2022 (Knesset channel screenshot)
Outgoing Prime Minister Yair Lapid addresses the Knesset, December 29, 2022 (Knesset channel screenshot)

In his final Knesset address as prime minister, Yair Lapid begins by saying he is handing over the baton of governance “with an unquiet heart.”

He then says he will detail his government’s achievements, “to prevent a rewriting of history.”

He talks of successes in the struggle against Iran’s march to the bomb, including thwarting international efforts to reach a new deal with the regime, and direct efforts against Iran “in Syria and beyond.”

He cites deepened ties with Israel’s Abraham Accords partners, with the opening of embassies in the UAE, Morocco, and Bahrain; Israel’s maritime deal with Lebanon; its successes against terror groups in Gaza, and its ongoing, intensive operation against terror groups in the West Bank. He notes that he signed the Jerusalem Declaration with US President Joe Biden, and deepened Israel’s ties with the US, and did not agree to the opening of an American consulate in East Jerusalem.

He says his government started a dialogue with the Saudis, the first step of which will be overflights and direct flights to Mecca for the Haj. Overall, he says, his government has “laid the foundations for full Saudi Arabian accession to the Abraham Accords.”

“The full classified details” of the progress in this regard will be handed over to the incoming prime minister, he says. “If the new government continues on the path we’ve set,” he says, “full normalization” with the Saudis can be obtained “in a not long time.”

Says Lapid: “We are transferring a country to you in excellent condition. With a strong economy, with improved security capabilities and powerful deterrence, with some of the best international standing ever. Try not to ruin it, we’ll be back soon,” he adds.

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